Posted By:Martin Wood
Subject:Thomas More (b.1538) and Martha Brooks (abt 1540)
Post Date:November 22, 2009 at 00:50:51
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Forum:More Family Genealogy Forum
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Numerous people on Ancestry Com and RootsWeb record the marriage of Thomas More, b.1538, to a Martha Brooks in their ‘Trees’.
Thomas More is said, correctly, to have been the son of John More and Anne Cresacre and therefore one of the grandsons of Sir/Saint Thomas More.
Martha Brooks is usually said to have been born at Medeley (should be Madeley) abt 1540, the daughter of Robert Brooke and Dorothy Gatacre.

During the ten years of my research into the descendants of Sir Thomas More I have tried my best to find out when and where the story of this marriage started, but not one of the many people I have contacted have been able to offer any documentary evidence to back up the claim and, as such, it should like many other internet claims stand as a 'fiction' or 'invention'.

Most people who record it seem to have copied it from someone else (a practice that seems to go on endlessly) or from the Mormon Family Search/IGI site which most people seem to quote as 'Gospel' but which is, in fact, only as good as the people who feed information (and their fantasies) into it. It is not and does not itself claim to be an authoritative source, unless backed up by documentary evidence. In this regard I have found it to be seriously flawed in regard to the More and Brooke (not Brooks) families.

The only documented facts are:
Thomas was born 2 July 1538. He was the second son with that first name in the family of John More and Anne Cresacre.
We know from his older brother's will that he married, but in spite of five hundred years of research by family genealogists, no one has been able to discover the name of his wife. We also know from his brother's will that he had three children: Cyprian, Constantine and Thomas. This information was not recorded by anyone until I posted in on the Internet a few years ago, but since then it has been copied onto many pages and, in most, the name ‘William’ has been added to Thomas (the son) to make him ‘Thomas William’. This is an invention, lacking any documentary foundation. There is no documentary record of where the children lived, who they married, or when they died.
Most people have, conveniently (for them), also altered the second name of Thomas William from ‘More’ to ‘Moore’.

We know that Thomas (b.1538) was already dead when his brother made his will in 1606 because in it he is referred to as 'Decd.' but we don't know in which year he actually died. The children's uncle, Cresacre More (1572-1649), was aquainted with them, because referring to them c.1616 he said that they had not been brought up by their father in any commendable profession and that the only one alive at that time was Cyprian.

Thomas William Moore is said (by some) to have married a Margaret Whale, and to have had a daughter Alice born about 1595 in Southold (should be Southwold, Suffolk, England), and also a son Joseph Morse (why 'Morse'?) born April 1613 at Henham, Essex.
Where Alice's date comes from I don't know. The Registers of Southwold Parish do not begin until the beginning of the 1600s. There are, in fact, no sources given for any of this information.

There also seems to be some confusion between the line from Thomas More (b.1538) and a Moore family from Southwold, Suffolk, England, some of whom emigrated to Massachusetts in the 1600s. There is, however, no known connection between the two lines.

Re: Martha Brooks:
She is said to have been the daughter of Robert Brooke (actually Sir Robert Brooke) and Dorothy Gatacre, and most seem to guess her date of birth as being abt. 1540.
Most people say Robert Brooke was born at Madley (or other variant spellings), Shropshire, when, in fact he was from Claverley, Shropshire, where he lies buried in the parish church. He did not purchase Madeley Court(not 'Madley' or 'Medley'), Shropshire, until 1544 and certainly in 1548 he was living at Ludstone Hall, near Claverley.

Sir Robert and Dorothy did have a daughter, Martha Brooke (not Brooks), and anyone with documentary information about the family would know her date of baptism (in 1545) because in addition to the family pedigree, it is recorded on her father's tomb in Claverley Parish Church.

I have copies of a Pedigree and other documents on the Brooke family from Shropshire Archives. I also have a copy of the Visitation of Shropshire, 1626, with a Pedigree based on information given by the family itself to Heralds of the College of Arms sent out to collect this information in that year.
These pedigrees clearly record the marriage of Martha Brooke (daughter of Sir Robert Brooke and Margaret Gatacre) to Christopher Digon, so any of their children would have the second name 'Digon', not 'More/Moore'

I note some people have, after contact from me, changed Martha’s second name from to ‘Brooks’ to ‘Brooke’ and kept her ancestry and descent. This, however is, as we say in England ‘trying to have their cake and eat it’, as the Martha Brooke in question is (as above) shown to have married Christopher Digon and not Thomas More.

In view of the documentary evidence it seems pointless to go on repeating (as many do) the marriage of Martha Brooks or Brooke to Thomas More, b. 1538, (the son of John More and Anne Cresacre) and recording their son as Thomas William Moore who married Margaret Whale, etc. etc.

There may, of course, have been a Thomas More of unknown date and origin, who married a Martha Brooks of unknown origin, who had a son Thomas William who adopted the second name ‘Moore’. However, on the evidence available, there is no reason for anyone interested in genuine genealogy, to connect them with the family of Sir/Saint Thomas More.
I would welcome contact from anyone who knows better!

Martin Wood
[Author: "The Family and Descendants of St. Thomas More." Published in the UK by 'Gracewing'. April 2008.]